JM Coetzee’s Life and Time of Michael K comes to Edinburgh to perform an adaptation of a Booker prize winning novel. With the help of a cast possessing a myriad of tricks up their sleeves, and a few puppets of exquisite craftsmanship, the story is told against a beautifully ruined set: apartheid South Africa during the 70-80s in the midst of a fictitious civil war. The protagonist of the story comes in the form of a puppet with a harelip chiselled from wood.
The show is sure of itself and takes the ample time of two hours to unfold. The show certainly requires patience from its audience. That being said, patience allows observing the show’s intricately choreographed modes of storytelling. The puppets come alive at the steady hands of the cast, mimicking the breath of life in all its subtletees. Each puppet master a limb of the whole being, stylistically visible and essential in its function. The baton is passed on to the rich voice work to distinguish the puppets in fully-fledged character.
The soundscape is transportive, indicative of the next thing stirring. Cast members share the responsibility of narration. While useful for transitory efficiency, it is executed in a way that makes the show hard to follow at times. This is slightly eased and off-set by occasional projections that clarified location or plot details.
Nonetheless, the show brings ambitious, soulful imagination to the stage with rigorous artistry. Brimming with moments of tender poignance, the production value is high, all while not commercialising the sincerity in its approach.
JM Coetzee’s Life and Times of Michael K
12:00 @ Assembly Hall – Main Hall
Aug 6-13, 15-20, 22-27